Don Martin: Trudeau government needs to start sweating the small stuff
This government is too young to act so old.
It usually takes a full term or two for a government to achieve a level of sufficiently arrogant entitlement to boldly spew patronage, wildly squander money or rule by secretive decree - and it usually hits just before voters throw the bums out.
But there are disquieting signs an early outbreak of second-term-itis is already infecting the sunny ways Trudeau government.
Examples? Well, here’s just a few from the last month or so.
It took the Conservatives five years in power to spend as much as the $18.3 million Prime Minister Trudeau spent in his first year to run his office. Thing is, Trudeau promised a decentralized minister-driven government. The Stephen Harper PMO was expected to cost a lot more because it served as control freak central with a bulging brigade of staff to impose his bidding system-wide.
If you want to see the gold standard for tax-dollar squandering, it’s the minister of finance spending $212,000 to ensure a barely-noticed budget cover had the right ethnic, gender and demographic balance.
On the decreed decision-making front, the government created a ‘highly recommended’ category for appointing judges. But a Globe analysis showed that, even though the highest caliber should always be the law, the government is selecting less recommended candidates in some cases without explanation.
If you want to smell what reeks of patronage, consider the awarding of a $437,000 eight-month contract to consult on reforming on-reserve First Nation child welfare to a former Liberal candidate who co-hosted a celebration for the Indigenous Affairs Minister.
This is particularly egregious because the government has ignored four Human Rights Tribunal orders to fix the disparity in child welfare funding immediately.
You can add to this list of headscratchers items like buying electric Tesla cars for emissions-testing when they don’t emit emissions; a costly consultation to find out that teens don’t like being called millennials; and the paying of a failed Liberal candidate twice the regular diplomatic pay to serve as consul general in hard-to-take San Francisco.
True, these are not biggie issues. And, to be fair, the Trudeau government is getting decent grades for handling economic, environmental and trade relations files.
But these are the sort of government symptoms which irritate voters if they allowed to spread without smackdown treatment.
This government should start acting its age – and start sweating the small stuff.
That’s the Last Word.